There are times in life when we can feel like we’ve been treated badly. You may feel that a business has not provided you with goods or a service it promised to give you. Perhaps someone took something that you believe belongs to you. It might be that your relationship has broken down and you need to sort out what happens to a joint home, money or your children. When you think you’re in the right about something it’s natural to want to stand up for yourself.  Disagreements do happen; sometimes people fall out and can’t sort things between themselves. Taking a problem to court is sometimes a way of sorting things out. If you start a court case and it goes all the way through court proceedings, a judge will listen to both sides of the story and decide what should happen.

Trying to resolve problems before going to court

Court proceedings can be expensive, take a long time and many people find them stressful.  It is sensible to always try to sort out your problem in a different way first before you start court proceedings. You can try writing or speaking directly to the person or organisation you are unhappy with. You should explain your point of view and be clear about what you would like to happen to sort out the problem.

Alternatives to going to court

There are other things you could try before going to court and you can find out more about alternatives to going to court on the Citizens Advice and Advice Now websites. You may also want to talk through your situation with a lawyer and get some advice about the best way to sort out your situation.  Sometimes lawyers may be able to contact the person or business you have the problem with on your behalf, and get things sorted in that way.

Before you start court proceedings

Before you start a court case, there are important things to consider and find out about. Going to court may look easy enough to handle on your own but you may feel differently when you realise what is involved. The Citizens Advice guide to Before You Take Someone to Court can help you.

Starting court proceedings

After having considered the alternative ways to try and sort out your problem, if you decide to start court proceedings, essential information you need to understand can be found in the Advice Now guide Going to Court: First Steps.  There are some matters where there is a time deadline that you must meet to start a court case and during the proceedings. Even if you start court proceedings you may be able to sort out your problem without the proceedings going all the way through to a final hearing before a judge. Or, you may find that you can agree on some parts of the dispute even if you can’t agree on everything. If you can do this then it will probably cut down the time and costs involved. The Government's guide 'How do I make a court claim?' is another good place to start. If you do not understand any part of the court proceedings, or what you need to do, then get legal advice straight away. To learn about the ways you could get free advice, look at our information about getting free legal advice. If you decide to use a lawyer to help you with the court process they will explain exactly what will happen and when. You can find out more about the different types of lawyer on our types of lawyers page.

Taking court proceedings on your own

If you decide to take court proceedings on your own you can find out what you have to do at each of the main stages in the court process from this Advice Now guide Going to Court: Starting your claim and the pre-trial process. You can also find out more about court hearings and making appeals against a court decision in this Advice Now guide Going to Court: Hearings, the trial and appeals.

Where can I find out more?

For further information on going to court see the other pages in our courts section: